Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wednesday Evening, August 17, 2011

Ryan and I swam this evening. Rob was off somewhere in the Catalina Channel swimming support for a friend who was attempting his second crossing. It was warn and sunny at Avila. I measured a water temperature of 65, which went along with the large number of people who were still playing in the water. I saw a couple of seals from the pier but no organized flocks of birds. I met Gerry Gross back at the beach. He had finished his swim and was heading home. He said that he had had to wait an hour to get in because of the intensity of the feeding activity that was taking place over near the Poly Pier. Not only was there a huge flock of birds and large numbers of seals and dolphins feeding on bait fish but also several whales were near the Poly Pier about 200m from shore! While we were talking the birds had returned to feed. Gerry said that feeding had been occurring in cycles for several hours in that area so Ryan Na I decided to stay on the east side of the pier where it looked nice and lonely. We swam out to the end of the Avila Pier and angled left to the last buoy. From there we swam parallel to the beach down to Fossil Point, reversed our course and returned along the buoy line to the Avila Pier and came in . We were in the water for 42 minutes and covered about 1-1/4 miles. The water was very comfortable with some very warm spots and one "cold" spot that must have been in the low 60's :). Hey, a sudden 3 or 4 degree drop in the water temperature is still a surprise. Kelp is piling up on the beach and there is a lot of loose pieces in the water, making kind'a trashy swimming conditions. Lot's of tings to hit with your hands and get tangled on your goggles. Yuckie, but the water is so comfortable I can't complain.

For any of you who have not heard Dave VanMouwerik successfully completed a trans-Tahoe crossing on Sunday. He swam the long way, from south to north, a distance of 21.2 miles in 13:51. The water temperature was in the mid 60's. He is the 19th person to have completed this swim. He started at 3AM and finished at 4:44PM. The water became so rough in the afternoon that his paddle boarder could not stay in the water and it took Dave 2 hours to complete the final mile. The dock where he was to land had been closed due to the severe conditions and they had to reopen it to allowed his boat to dock!

Let's all give Dave a huge ATT'A BOY! for a amazing accomplishment.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tuesday Evening, August 16, 2011

Rob and I did a extra swim Tuesday evening. At 6 PM we swam from Avila Beach to Olde Port Beach which is west of Avila towards the port. The occasion was the annual meeting on the beach of a trade group that he belongs to and Rob wanted to make a special entrance from the water. I came along to accompany him and to rack a minor personal first as I have ever been swimming on the West side of the Poly Pier. We started out along the east side of the Avila Pier to the end and turned right towards the second set of cross bracing on the Poly Pier. I didn't get a temperature before we got in but the water felt warm, about 63 to 65 degrees. There was a slight wind and small chop from the East which I didn't notice once we turned towards the Poly Pier. Rob and I both towed our rescue cans behind us as we were going to be on our own on this swim. From the Poly Pier we angled towards the middle of Olde Port Beach. There was a large group of pelicans working a ball of bait fish out among the moored boats off of the beach and we wanted to stay well clear of them. We had watched them while we were leaving a car at Olde Port before driving back to Avila and we never saw any seals or dolphins and it seemed safer without them. We swam parallel to the beach for about about 100m before we came abreast of Rob's friends. He made his entrance and we walked to my car on the bluff and drove to Avila. I dropped Rob at his truck and he headed back to the party. We had covered 2200m in 34 minutes including stops for photos and reconnaissance. Rob is swimming support for a friend's Catalina Channel crossing Wednesday and again on Sunday for a crossing from Anacapa. I'll be at Avila tonight and on Sunday.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Not much swimming went on at Avila today. It seemed like everybody had a story of recent extremely sharky conditions at Avila or a siting near by, and even thought the conditions looked great only Gerry Gross swam. Dale started it off with a mid-week e-mail about a large shark that crused the stern of an acquaintance's boat while they were fishing off Diablo Canyon. Pete Kelly stopped by while we were discussing Dale's info and recounted how late Saturday afternoon Avila had the most sharky conditions he had ever seen; a ball of bait fish and feeding birds and seals that extended half the length of the buoy line. Gerry Gross showed up to swim and reported that late Friday, after he had gotten out of the water, that a group of 50 to 70 dolphins gathered to feed along the surf line.. Well, at this point Sylvia was had gotten deeply interested in Sunday's paper, Chad, who had done a biathlon Saturday, was just going to do a run, Duke announced that for once he was going to do the unexpected smart thing and say out, Rob was on the fence and I would have liked to swim but considered this a great opportunity to grab some extra time today to spend with my wife. That left Gerry, who swam by himself. The water was 60 degrees and there was only a slight breeze, so I hope he had a great time.
Rob and I will be back Tuesday for his swim into a party of Olde Port Beach and Wednesday for our regulary scheduled evening swim at 5:30.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wednesday Evening, August 10, 2011

It was another warm Wednesday, and there will be more on that later in this post. It was breezy but sunny and pleasant at Avila. There was enough of a breeze to push up a decent chop out of the SSW. There were no whitecaps but it would be enough to make this a real ocean swim. I measured a water temperature of 62. While I was out on the pier I did not see any bait fish/bird/seal activity. Swimming this evening were Rob, Ryan Kim and Niel. By the time we were ready to get in the water some pelicans had gathered on the west (right) side of the pier so we decided to start on the left side, swim out to the end of the pier and see what things looked like. Our initial plan was to go to the left from the end of the pier to either the last buoy in the line or to Fossil Point before coming back along the buoy line to the pier. The chop was surprisingly bumpy swimming out along the pier, especially as this side was in the lee of the wind and the chop usually is reduced as it passes through the pilings. I found the water to be very comfortable, thinking that my temperature reading might of been low. Ryan and I waited at the end of the pier for Kim and Rob and got pushed steadily to the east by the wind and swell. Kim wanted to go to the last buoy and since she was the least experienced ocean swimmer of the group we decided to stick together, thinking that she could return down the buoy line by herself if the rest of us decided to extend our swim down to the point. Well we didn't. We grouped up at the buoy and everybody swam back along the line to the pier and in to the beach.
Kris and I stayed for dinner and at about 7 a huge scrum of fish and birds formed at a point about even with the end of the pier and moved back and forth, to alternate sides of the pier, for 20 minutes. It looked like we were too early for the buffet.
The next swim is Sunday at 11.

About Warm Wednesdays. For the last two months the water temperature at Avila Beach has been significantly warmer for our Wednesday evening swims than on the previous or following Sundays. On Wednesday, June 22, the water temperature was 63.5 and has been no lower than 60 and as high as 67 (! on 7/6) on every Wednesday since. On the Sundays starting with 6/19 the water temperature has been in the 50's from 55.5 to one lonely 60 on 7/24. Now I'm not complaining, the Wednesday evening swims have been great, but I don't get it. This is more fluctuation than seems 'normal' and being warmer on every Wednesday evening is just strange. That this has been going on for two months seems to rule out tides or currents and I do not think that the later time of day can be the cause of this much variation. Unfortunately there are no other records for comparison. The water temperature station on the Poly Pier has been inoperative for about a year and historically, the one at the port does not follow the trends at Avila close enough to be useful. So, does anyone have an idea about this? I ready for an explanation that relies on whales farting, residual effects from the Shell oil spill or some secret government testing program.


***Bonus Swim!!! Avila to Olde Port Beach on August 16th***

Next Tuesday the 16th I'm looking for some people interested in doing a point to point swim from the Avila Pier down to Olde Port Beach (the dog beach). A trade group I'm involved with (the SLO Creative and Marketing Alliance) is having its annual beach party down there an I feel like making an unnecessarily dramatic arrival :) On top of being a good swim this might be a fun networking event for you if you're in a creative or marketing field or need to meet some people who are. We'll leave Avila at about 6pm and hit Olde Port Beach probably around 6:45pm. If you're interested in doing the swim or possibly kayaking please let me know so we can come up with a plan in advance for transportation since this is a point to point swim.

Rob D.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sunday, August 7, 2011

AT 10:15 the sun was coming out, there was no wind and the water was 59. About 100M south and west of the end of the Avila Pier there was a big boil of seals proposing back and forth through a ball of fish. Curiously, there were no birds joining in on this buffet. There were several otters feeding on either side of the pier and a group of porpoises headed west from the kelp patch that is between the left buoy line and the rock off of Fossil Point. By the time we were thinking about a route all of the action has stopped but we still decided to stay along the buoy line. This also fit the generally low level of gumption in the group. Sylvia was soaking up the sun, sinking into her chair and didn't swim. She looked very happy. Getting in were Susan James, Niel, Duke, Chad, Kim, Dale and Gerry Gross. We started to the left, went to the last buoy and came back to the pier. At this point people started pealing off. Chad and I made it to the lend of the line at the creek and back to the pier.
Rick and Rhonda rode by and filled us in on their European vacation which included a spot at the last turn at the Tour de France time trial. Matt Farmer also visited for a while.

Rob and I will be back on Wednesday evening.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wednesday Evening, August 3. 2011

Rob, Ryan and I leaned against the railing above the beach from 5:20 until almost 6, watching the pelicans dive on a mass of bait fish about 200M east of end of the Avila Pier. While we watched and debated swimming conditions v.s. feeding conditions the wind was moving scrum of birds and fish closer to the pier and the shore. I could not see any seals in the mix but nobody was comfortable deciding how much less sharky that made the conditions. Other than that, the water was 63 and choppy, but not whitecapped. Without the birds and the fish it would have been a good evening for a swim. Well, nobody was feeling really pressed to swim and the birds and fish were now moving towards the creek, so we let this opportunity pass. This is the first time we have scrubbed a swim since last winter and that was due to questionable water quality, not critters, so the ocean has been very welcoming.

We'll be back Sunday to swim at 11.